Foreign Office warns fans over Rome

By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - Up to 10,000 Manchester United fans are expected to travel to Rome without tickets for next week's Champions League final against Barcelona, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said Tuesday.

In a statement, the Foreign Office warned fans which metro stops and other areas of the city to avoid because of the fears of widespread trouble surrounding the match in the Italian capital.

There have been many stabbings, fights, muggings and thefts involving overseas fans in Rome for a number of years and the Foreign Office has warned United fans to take every precaution.

Typical of the advice handed out is: "Do not take the metro to the Piazzale Flaminio or use the Ponte Duca D'Aosta bridge as there has been trouble along this route to the stadium on many occasions."

UEFA threatened to take the final off Rome if AS Roma's Champions League quarter-final against Manchester United last season was marred by a repeat of the violence that hit United's previous two visits.

That did not happen but Arsenal fans were attacked before their team knocked out Roma in a last-16 second leg in March.

In a statement, the FCO says it worried about the number of fans making the trip which is estimates will be 30,000. Twenty thousand fans are expected to travel with tickets.

"Whilst last year's Champions League Final in Moscow saw exemplary behaviour from British fans, the Foreign Office is concerned that the sheer amount of fans travelling to Rome could lead to safety issues in the Italian capital," the FCO said in the statement.

"It has therefore worked in close collaboration with the Italian authorities to put in place stringent safety plans, as well as offering crucial tips and advice to fans before they travel. These can be seen in full on a dedicated webpage on the FCO website ("


The Foreign Office also says that the excitement generated by "the dream final" between two of Europe's most glamorous and successful clubs, will lead to more last-minute decisions to travel to Rome next week, thus increasing the likelihood that British fans will experience difficulties.

"One in five Brits neglect to take out any form of travel insurance and this number dramatically increases with last-minute planning and short stays.

"The FCO is particularly worried that the current economic climate means that more fans will be cutting corners and will decide against taking out travel insurance. This could have potentially disastrous consequences for football travellers, as a fall in Rome resulting in a broken leg could cost up to 2,500 pounds without insurance."

Gianni Alemanno, the mayor of Rome, added: "We are delighted to be hosting such a fantastic event and we have worked hard to ensure that all visitors have an enjoyable and trouble-free stay in our city. Rome welcomes the British fans with open arms, and we look forward to celebrating this great sporting festival together."

(Additional reporting by Mark Meadows in Milan, editing by Pritha Sarkar

Article Published: 20/05/2009